Regulatory Watchdogs

Center for Regulatory Effectiveness

Greenpeace International
Public Citizen
Sierra Club

Center for Auto Safety
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Clean Air Trust
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Environmental Defense
ETC Group
FM Watch
Friends of the Earth
PR Watch
State Public Interest Research Groups
U.S. Public Interest Research Groups


The nature of NGOs is morphing, paralleling advances in the Internet's role in global affairs. An example of the new generation of internet watchdogs is the Citizen Lab, a self-described "hothouse" based at the University of Toronto that brings together social scientists, filmmakers, computer scientists, activists, and artists focusing on "advanced research and development at the intersection of digital media and world civic politics."

A key project involves investigators who "are turning their scrutiny to a new weapon of international warfare: cyber attacks. Tracking wars isn't what many of the researchers, who call themselves 'hacktivists,' set out to do. Many began intending to help residents in countries that censor online content. But as the Internet has evolved, so has their mission." A Citizen Lab official described the organization as a "global civil society counterintelligence agency."

Another new-breed watchdog is the Shadowserver Foundation, which "gathers intelligence on the darker side of the internet. We are comprised of volunteer security professionals from around the world. Our mission is to understand and help put a stop to high stakes cybercrime in the information age."

A Washington Post story noted that the watchdogs' "efforts have ramped up in the past year as researchers gather evidence that Internet assaults are playing a larger role in military strategy and political struggles. Even before Georgia and Russia entered a ground war earlier this month, Citizen Lab's researchers noticed sporadic attacks aimed at several Georgian Web sites. Such attacks are especially threatening to countries that increasingly link critical activities such as banking and transportation to the Internet."

As is true of all tools, the Internet can be used for good or ill. Fortunately there are watchdogs working to maintain the freedom and security of electronic communications.

See Citizen Lab website

See Shadowserver Foundation website

See Washington Post article

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